Doire come aboard as Champion sponsors
The Champion Stakes, which begins on Saturday at Shelbourne Park, has a new sponsor in the shape of Doire Construction from Derry.
Well-known owner Paul Gallagher, who has a number of greyhounds running at Shelbourne trained by Willie Mullan, is a director of the Derry company which is a provider to the rail sector, mainly in the UK.
It is the first time for Doire Construction to sponsor at Shelbourne, and the news from the track boss Patrick Flynn is that they will also be sponsoring a few smaller sweepstakes in the coming months at the track. The more the merrier!
The Champion Stakes has been run at Shelbourne since 1986, and it has become the annual pre-Derby warm-up at the track.
In that time the same-year Champion Stakes and Irish Derby double has been completed by Manorville Magic in 1989, Ardfert Mick in 1991 and Shelbourne Aston in 2008, while Razldazl Billy won the Derby in 2006 and the Champion Stakes the following year.
The question is, can any greyhound manage the extremely difficult double this time?
As at close of play yesterday the required 18 entries had almost been received with the final list being provided this morning by PJ Fahy prior to the 11am draw.
The dogs added were Paul Hennessy's Barefoot Artist and Budgie Bypass, while Pat Buckley has substituted Paradise Maverik for Dolcino Flyer.
We have the usual graded racing at Shelbourne tonight but we can anticipate a few good performances.
One race which jumps to mind is the A5 contest where Larry Mason's Cyprus Avenue goes from trap one and Pat Guilfoyle's Hitthekettle (8.30) from six. Cyprus ran on promisingly last time but Hitthekettle is a member of a promising litter which includes expensive purchase Skywalker Archie, and he can step up on his Galway debut.
Another worth keeping an eye on is the Peter Comerford and Tony Moore-owned Water Fern (9.30), which ran on strongly last week and may turn the tables on Lingrawn Jubilee this time.
A high-class entry has been received for the FFK Southern Oaks, which kicks off at Youghal on Friday.
The entry includes Oaks runner-up Hovex Princess and kennel companion and Consolation Oaks winner Sidarian Nell, Donal Murphy's Unraced Bitch winners Badminton Maid and Badminton Rossa, Skywalker Pearl, Satin Tess, Yahoo Perlena, Happy Omen and Paradise Matilda.
With the Munster football final replay being played on Saturday night there will be an earlier weigh-in at Tralee to allow owners and trainers to watch the start of the big game. Nice thinking!